Bills deal Cowboys 2nd loss Super Bowl pain eased by 13-10 win

September 13, 1993|By Bill Plaschke | Bill Plaschke,Los Angeles Times

IRVING, Texas -- Matt Darby fell down and was slapped by an angry Jay Novacek at the 1-yard line, but that didn't stop him.

Darby jumped back up with the ball he had just intercepted for the Buffalo Bills and ran downfield throughout the stunned silence that enveloped Texas Stadium, leaping and shouting for 60 yards.

"I was so excited, I could have run a mile," Darby said.

Back behind the Dallas Cowboys' end zone, where Darby had just stolen a 13-10 victory for the Bills, Jerry Jones walked briskly in the other direction.

Jones, owner of the Cowboys, was looking for an exit before somebody threw something.

The rematch of last season's Super Bowl made eight months seem like eight years yesterday, with one team gaining redemption while the other lost face.

This time it was the Cowboys, defending Super Bowl champions, making the mistakes and suffering the embarrassment.

This time it was the Bills who celebrated like silly children.

With 12 seconds remaining, Darby intercepted a pass from Troy Aikman on the goal line to seal a victory that was within a second of being something else.

Aikman's pass, from the 11, hit Novacek in the shoulder pads. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, it also hit Darby in the shoulder pads, as he hustled out of his zone and collided with the big tight end when the pass arrived.

The ball ricocheted into the air,Darby caught it, was tackled, and the Cowboys' 70-yard drive ended as the Bills' celebration began.

"While they were driving, I was standing there thinking, 'Oh no, this would be a terrible way to lose it,' " said Bills receiver Don Beebe. "Then I thought, 'What a perfect way to win it.' "

Perfect, because this is essentially the same Bills team that lost Super Bowl XXVII in Pasadena, Calif., 52-17, after giving up 35 points because of nine turnovers.

Yesterday, the Cowboys committed four turnovers that led to all of the Bills' points.

The game-winning, 35-yard field goal by Steve Christie with 2:49 to play came after Kevin Williams, carrying the football carelessly, had fumbled away his second punt return in two games.

The Cowboys also suffered through two missed field goals by Lin Elliott, which was the reason Aikman was throwing into the end zone in those final seconds instead of letting the kicking team take the field and attempt to force overtime.

"I hate to use the word 'revenge,' " Beebe said. "But I would be lying to you if I said that everyone in this locker room didn't think this game was extra special to us, and that this win was really sweet."

Emmitt Smith, the Cowboys' absent running back, would use a different word to describe this game. How about "leverage"?

He has missed two games because of a salary dispute with Jones over a difference of about $625,000 a year on a four-year contract, and the Cowboys have looked miserable in losing both games.

And boy, are they getting cranky.

"We've got to eliminate all the negative talk around here; we've got one negative after another," said coach Jimmy Johnson, his mood as foul as anyone has seen since he arrived here in 1989. "It wears on you. I know it wears on me."

The 63,226 fans at Texas Stadium gave their opinion of Smith's worth by chanting, "We want Emmitt! We want Emmitt!"

The Bills, who won despite gaining only 229 total yards, 133 fewer total yards than in Pasadena, can understand the fans.

Darby, in fact, said that he may never have gotten a chance to make the interception if the Cowboys had Smith.

"On that last play of the game, they probably would have run a draw to Emmitt if they had him," said Darby, a fifth-round draft choice from UCLA in 1992. "No doubt, him not being there is the key."

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